Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24984 / Araucaria

Posted by mhl on April 14th, 2010


A fair but rather tricky puzzle for a week day, largely due to a few obscure or archaic words. There’s a nice set of “reversed clues” where the answer might clue some words in the clue – guessing the right anagrind for the answer was the tricky bit in these ones, I thought.

1. ISOGAMETE IS GAME = “is ready” in (TOE)*; I’m not totally sure about this, but as I understand it an ISOGAMETE is one of two germ cells that unite, rather than the united cell, but I could be totally wrong…
9,30. SILENT SPRING IS reversed + LENT = “fast” + SPRING = “bound”
10,11. REVOLVING CREDIT The first of the reversed clues: “revolving credit” might clue DIRECT (13a)
12. OPEN-ENDED The subsidiary (“now may we leave the course?”) cryptically refers to what might be said after the end of the Open (the British Open golf competition)
13,31. DIRECT INJECTION DIRECT = “Oversee” + INJECTION = “jab”; a type of engine that doesn’t need a carburettor :) (That’s the DI in TDI engine, for example.)
17,21. PUTNEY PUT = “Place” + NEY = “old soldier”; Michel Ney is a favourite of crossword setters
19. TATIANA TATI = “French comedian” and ANA = “stories” (an “ana” is a collection of anecdotes) Update: I think I made a bit of a meal of this one – as tupu points out below, “ana” as a noun to mean a collection of stories is derived from “-ana” as a suffix (e.g. Victoriana) so a more natural reading is just that stories about Tati would be Tatiana
20. RANCOUR Sounds like “ranker” – a private is a soldier with rank – at least that’s my best explanation Thanks to Eileen, who quotes this definition from Chambers below: “‘ranker: a person who serves, or has served, as a private soldier”
23. INRUSH IN = “trendy” + RUSH = “aquatic plant”; the definition refers to the expression “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread”
27. STRATONIC ARTS = “Cultural concerns” reversed + TONIC = “shot in the arm”; I’d never heard of this word before, but it means “pertaining to the army”
28,29. COOKED BREAKFAST Reversed clue: “cooked breakfast” might clue RAF BASKET
2. SLEEPY SPY = “agent” with LEE = “general” inside
4,14. MOVING STAIRCASE Reversed clue: “moving staircase” might clue CAT ARISES; the answer is an old expression for an escalator
5. TONNEAU TONNE AU might be a “weight in gold?”; TONNEAU was originally a word for open back seats of a car, apparently
6. GIORGIONE GONE = “left” (as in “she’s gone / she’s left”) around I = “setter” + OR GI = “or soldier”
7. BEADLEDOM BE followed by (DOLED)* in AM = “morning”
8. STATUTORY STATU[e] = “representation curtailed” + TORY = “Conservative”
15. STARBOARD STAR = “light” + BOARD = “ship?” or “on ship?” – I’m not sure which of these is intended
16. FAR-SEEING FARSEE = “Persian heard” (sounds like “Farsi”) + IN + G = “front of Greek”
17,18. PANTRY PAN = “God” + TRY = “attempt”
22. ENTERON ENTER ON = “Start considering”; the ENTERON is the alimentary canal or intestines
24,3. PARADE GROUND Reversed clue: “parade ground” might clue A PADRE
25. COMFIT COM = “Dot’s follower”, as in “dot-com” + FIT = “worthy”
26. FIASCO [ma]FIA’S = “Without master, criminal society’s” + CO = “company”

30 Responses to “Guardian 24984 / Araucaria”

  1. molonglo says:

    Thanks mhl. This had too many unheard of words (1a, 27a, 5d, 22d) to be doable without aids, although I guessed most of them, over eighty minutes. The ‘clue’ clues were quite fun. The top right corner was toughest and it needed all the crossletters to get the painter. 12a raised a chuckle.

  2. rrc says:

    I liked 28 29, and raisied a smile at 13 31 but this ended up being a bit of a chore with frequent use of Chambers to ascertain the right answer

  3. walruss says:

    Solved on the train this morning, which must be a first for me. Araucaria normally keeps me going through lunch as well, so I wonder if this one might have been easier, despite the hard words, than the norm. But I have tried to take note of what I ate for breakfast!

  4. Ian says:

    Thanks mhl.

    The reversed clues evident early on from ‘Parade Ground’ and ‘Revolving Credit’. Unlike walruss, I found this hard to solve without aids and there are three words i haven’t come across before, ‘Enteron’, ‘Isogamete’ and ‘Giorgione’.

    One or two masterly clues like 26dn for ‘Fiasco’ and ‘Stratonic’.

    This took 75′

  5. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, mhl, but there were far too many obscure words for my liking.

    I didn’t get several and, sadly, I didn’t get FAR SEEING because I had convinced myself that ‘Persian’ had its usual cryptic meaning = ‘cat’.

    I rate this 5 out of 10 and I suggest that it’s now time to review Araucaria’s status as ‘The Master’ … maybe ‘Hex-Master’?

  6. mhl says:

    Bryan: I think it’d have to be “Persian, perhaps” or “Persian, for example” to clue CAT, but I see what you mean. As usual, I will try to avoid commenting on the long running joke / controversy of who exactly “The Master” is… :)

  7. cholecyst says:

    …too many obscure words …, Bryan. Were there? I only counted two. I thought this puzzle was eminently doable. As to whether Araucaria is now past his best, we cannot tell on the evidence of one puzzle. He’s still my favourite setter – but then, I don’t have a very logical brain.

  8. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for a great blog, mhl.

    [There’s no problem with 20ac: Chambers [not unpacked yet? :-) ]has ‘ranker: a person who serves, or has served, as a private soldier’.]

    I had a late start, of necessity, this morning but this was well worth waiting for and worth savouring.

    I loved the reverse clues – just my cup of tea – and didn’t mind the unfamiliar words, because they were easily gettable. The only weak one, I thought, was isogamete, since a gamete is a cell, so it’s rather obvious.

    [It’s curious how the same words keep coming up: ERSATZ two days running in the Indy this week and now another INRUSH – a rather better definition than Rufus’s on Monday, but still a rather strange surface, although I liked the ‘arrival of fools’.]

  9. Retired pleb says:

    Ara seems to be getting ever more contrived in his clueing, a thought I had after some recent offerings, also often references that only spring readily to mind for the ‘older’ solver.

    Got there eventually with this one, made more difficult, I thought, by the nature of the grid – being almost four separate corner puzzles.

    STRATONIC new word for me. GIORGIONE – needed help from list of painters !


  10. sidey says:

    I really don’t like this grid. That said A used it rather well and it wasn’t the lazy setter’s four separate puzzles. Not bad for the old chap.

    However I have an almost pathological hatred of ‘reverse clues’. I can only hope they don’t start appearing in proper crosswords. 😉

  11. Another Andrew says:

    About nine left today (I’ve decided to set a time limit rather than spend all day on these puzzles), mostly the obscure words, which indicates that I’m rather dependent on knowing the words if I’m to solve a clue. I enjoyed this one in spite of there being so many unknowns.

    While I can almost always understand the answers once they’re explained to me, I still amazed at how so many of you can knock off these things in such a short time!

  12. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl. I enjoyed this, but then I am a fan of reverse clues and was pleased to have so many to solve in today’s puzzle. MOVING STAIRCASE was the first one of these that I got.

    Iac, 6dn, and 27ac took much more time and recourse to the check button. I’ve never heard of 27ac and this was my last answer.

    I agree with Eileen re 23ac. Much better than Rufus’s clue and I liked the allusion to ‘fools rush in’.

  13. mhl says:

    Thanks to everyone for the comments.

    cholecyst: only two obscure words? I think I’d count ISOGAMETE, BEADLEDOM, STRATONIC, ENTERON and TONNEAU in the answers, and, unless you’ve done a lot of crosswords and / or were much better educated than me, ANA and NEY in the subsidiaries are pretty tough…

    Another Andrew: I certainly set a time limit, knowing full well that in a good number of crosswords there are a few answers I’d never get… Personally, I like this way of doing things, since it encourages me to try more than one crossword in a day even if the first one I try is really difficult.

    Eileen: I’m afraid you might be shocked to hear that we had to leave Chambers out of the stuff we took with us, due to weight considerations :( If only their online version would let me renew subscriptions, I’d just use that one.

  14. Bill Taylor says:

    I thought MOVING STAIRCASE and PARADE GROUND were both excellent, as was INRUSH. But my favourite was 12a. And, as Eileen says, the unfamiliar words were gettable, though perhaps not easily.

    I’ve made my feelings known more than once about Araucaria so no need to repeat them. I hope the Guardian allows him the honour of setting crossword no. 25,000.

  15. Mr. Jim says:

    Thanks to mhl and Araucaria.

    The reverse clues were fun, but I share the same reservation I had about the last Araucaria (namely that he uses too many things for anagram indicators, so he probably shouldn’t use anagrInds in his answers). With that in mind I think 5d could just as easily have been SPIRAL STARCASE. (Well, okay, I’m just bitter ’cause I put it in and then got stuck for the three crossing clues).

  16. tupu says:

    Re 19a. I got Tatiana on the model of -ana in Americana, Africana, Churchilliana etc. without realising that ‘ana’ has developed into a word of its own. Concise Oxford gives a set of connections under -an, ana, -ana (with link to L. -anus).

  17. Richard says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl.

    I loved the reverse clues, and in fact enjoyed all the clues except those leading to obscure words as solutions. I agree with Bryan @5 in this regard – I really don’t want to have to take Chambers to the pub with me at lunchtime….

  18. mhl says:

    tupu: Thanks, you’ve made me realize that I made TATIANA more difficult than it really is – I’ve updated my comment on that one as a result.

  19. Tokyo Colin says:

    Thank you mhl. I was initially disappointed when I realised it was not to be Paul’s turn today but that soon disappeared when I began solving this gem from Araucaria. I wholeheartedly endorse Eileen’s comment at #8.

    There were a few words we don’t see daily but I had some inkling about all of them. But vocabulary is very personal. These were all better known to me than “Gin & It” for example.

    I too like the reverse clues. Lots of fun! And it saved me from trying to solve around PETROL Injection since Revolving Credit set that one straight.

    One minor comment on the blog – in 15dn, STAR is “on BOARD”, hence on (a) ship. This is a welcome variant of “on board” = S…S.

    And I didn’t look up “ranker” but presume the origin is “one from the ranks”, rather than possessing a particular rank.

  20. JimboNWUK says:

    This was an OK puzzle IMHO… I was more disenchanted with my electronic dictionary not having ISOGAMETE and ENTERON in it than I was with the puzzle….hmph!

  21. Derek Lazenby says:

    Not sure how I managed to finish this one, even with gadgets. I’m with the hard work brigade.

  22. Daniel Miller says:

    Well Mr. A. got me on 3-4 but I have to say some splendid clues..
    First the praise: Some routine stuff: TATIANA (nice!), STARBOARD (sorry, I really had to double-take this (“Is he having me on?”) as it couldn’t be much more routine than this!) and some nice wordplay – FAR-SEEING.. OPEN-ENDED etc.

    Now the more interesting stuff:
    ISOGAMETE – finally. Good, tough clue – a vaguely familiar word for an answer!

    SILENT SPRING.. again, a little knowledge required which I confess was not in my armoury – just relatively OK to work out however..

    The “Anagram” Answers: Excellent word-play for COOKED Breakfast, REVOLVING Credit (which gives us 13, Direct), Parade GROUND (into the dust, no doubt!) and MOVING Staircase.. Enjoyed all of these.

    Where the great man got the better of me: Or, more to the point, when I decided enough (effort) was enough…

    STRATONIC (Arts I see, Tonic I see..(now) – thanks!

    COMFIT.. FIT I see but – heavens! Great clue – I’m thinking TOTO (Dorothy!) etc. This was just out of the back end of my memory..

    TONNEAU – see COMFIT – another forgotten word.. and then..GIORGIONE – a Painter not on my radar.

    So, it was solvable with patience and (probably) a reference book or two!

    If A. gets # 25,000 it will be a toughie for a Monday (3rd May)

  23. FieryElephant says:

    Again great blogging and thanks – top stuff for a beginner.

    Managed two today (blushing!)- 15 and 28/29 (maybe I can count that as three).

    Will keep going – you are all far more influential than you realise!!!

  24. Martin H says:

    Thanks for the explanation of 12ac mhl. Now that I see it I can’t say that I like it, but it’s the only gripe I have about this very enjoyable puzzle. I too dislike this sort of grid, but Araucaria’s use of it really opened it out; superbly done. ‘Ranker’ rings a distant bell, but ‘Stratonic’ is quite new to me; both gettable from the clues. ‘Beadledom’ is a word well worth resurrecting in this age of surveillance cameras, ID card proposals, police harassment of legitimate protest.

  25. Mark H says:

    Didn’t get the more obscure words – Isoganete, tatiana, beadledom and enteron. The rest I found fairly straightforward and entertaining.

  26. Dave Ellison says:

    That’s definitely 3, FE @ #23. Keep going, I am sure you’ll get there.

    I stupidly forgot my pen this morning, so tried doing it in my head and was pleased, but very brain weary, to get 18 done after 23′. It’s a very tiring task. (This is really a comment that it was an easier A. than ususal so far)

    The first I got was SILENT SPRING, which I read years ago. What were left were the mostly the unusual words which I would never have got without filling in with a pen once at work. 10 ac beat me, sadly never having heard of the phrase.

    Enjoyed it, a typical A. in my view.

  27. slipstream says:

    Beadledom? Even Google can’t define it . . .

  28. Bill Taylor says:

    Google most certainly can. It offers 28,700 references! The first one is, which defines beadledom as “a stupid or officious display or exercise of authority, as by petty officials.” It’s a perfectly good word.

  29. irm says:

    Thanks mhl

    Late as ever, but I did do much better with this puzzle apart from ISOGAMETE, BEADLEDOM. I got STRATONIC but didn’t write it in!

    But the one that really twisted my mind was 20ac, because I immediately saw REVENGE (… is mine {private}) and it messed up the Top Right until I looked it up here!

  30. lutheras says:

    I too like the reverse clues. Lots of fun! And it saved me from trying to solve around PETROL Injection since Revolving Credit set that one straight.

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